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Planetarium offers unique education

April 12, 2011
By Erin E. O’Neill (eoneill@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

Roughly 18,000 people have walked through the doors of the Anderson Hancock Planetarium on the Marietta College campus since it opened in May 2009, including many students from around the Mid-Ohio Valley.

"Thousands of area residents have been able to take advantage of the college's free monthly programs, as well as countless students in kindergarten through eighth grade having been treated to special shows as part of school field trips to campus," said Tom Perry, director of college relations. "From a community relations standpoint, the addition of the Anderson Hancock Planetarium has been a huge success."

Ann Bragg is the director of the planetarium and is the primary guide for school tours and public events. She said she feels the planetarium is a wonderful thing for the community and teaches students something about their universe that they can't find in a book.

"It's a much more immersive experience; it's easier to visualize things," she said.

Children who are involved in scouting, school groups and summer programs, such as those through the Betsey Mills Club, Marietta Family YMCA and Ely Chapman, have also had the opportunity to explore the 40-foot dome.

"They ask a lot of questions," Bragg said. "The younger kids are so enthusiastic - they usually want to know how big something is or how far away or how many."

Fact Box

About the

planetarium

Named after Emeritus Professors Dr. Les Anderson and Dr. Whit Hancock

Dedicated on May 8, 2009

Features monthly public shows at varying times and dates. Information can be found at www.marietta.edu/departments/Planetarium. The public shows are free, though donations are accepted.

The lobby area of the planetarium is open during from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays to allow community members to view the lobby displays and NASA programming.

School and youth groups can schedule special viewing times by contacting the planetarium at (740) 376-4827 or planetarium@marietta.edu.

Upcoming

programs

The Edge of the Solar System

April 21 at 7 p.m.

April 24 at 3:30 p.m.

Reservations for the April shows will be taken beginning April 4.

Named in honor of Emeritus Professors Les Anderson and Whit Hancock, the planetarium is equipped with a hybrid projection system that combines an optical-mechanical star projector with a powerful full-dome digital video projector. Marietta College is currently one of a handful of planetariums in the country to feature the Goto Chronos hybrid system, which can replicate the night sky from thousands of years in the past to thousands of years in the future from countless vantage points in the Universe.

It was made possible through a donation from Marietta College alumnus Dave Rickey.

"When Dave and Brenda Rickey agreed to provide more than $3 million of support for the planetarium, one of their major stipulations was that the college must provide access to everyone. We are pleased to have fulfilled the Rickey's wish and will continue to do so for many years," said Perry.

As a part of a collaborative effort between the college and Marietta City Schools called (MC)squared Science Collaborative, Tasha Werry has taken her Washington Elementary fifth-grade classes to the facility.

"I have taken my students to the planetarium for the last two years," she said.

According to Werry, the project partners Marietta College and Marietta City Schools in an effort to expose the students and teachers to experts in the field while having the students participate in hands-on activities.

"This year is the pilot for the elementary program," Werry explained. "What we have figured out is that the field trip to the planetarium is definitely effective. The students were given an assessment the day before and after their planetarium experience. The scores went up significantly and the students had a great time while they were there. They didn't even realize they were learning."

"Most students are used to a variety of technology and the planetarium is actually something new for them. It is hard for teachers to compete with systems like Wii and XBox," Werry said.

 
 

 

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